Firies ‘will die’ without climate action

Firies ‘will die’ without climate action

28 January 2010

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Australia — More firefighters will be killed as they face increasingly unpredictable bushfires caused by climate change, a union says.

In the wake of a new report linking catastrophic bushfires and climate change, the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union said government inaction was putting firefighters’ lives at risk.

Union secretary Jim Casey said existing fire techniques were struggling to cope with the catastrophic fire dangers.

“To be quite blunt, we don’t know really know how to fight them,” he told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.

“Firefighters don’t know what to do when faced with a fire danger we have never faced before.

“Climate change is making it much harder and more difficult, and more firefighters will be hurt and possibly killed.”

The Future Risk report, co-authored by the union and environmental group Greenpeace, claims the frequency of severe danger days rated severe or higher will triple in Australia if no action is taken on climate change.

It states that temperatures across the country will still rise two degrees celsius even if the federal government’s pledge to cut Australia’s carbon emissions by five to 25 per cent by 2020 becomes the new global treaty.

That would still mean the approximate number of severe fire days would double in southeastern Australia, it says.

Mr Casey said the government needed to ban the construction of any new coal-fired power stations and begin investing in clean, renewable energy.

“We are calling on (Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd to cut emissions or else men and women are being put on heightened risk, and that’s unacceptable,” he said.

“We are happy to do our job but we are not happy to is become more difficult than it already is.”

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